Date set for police officers’ murder trial

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Tefo Tefo

HIGH Court judge, Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo, this week set 12 to 16 November 2018 as the trial dates for the case in which four police officers are accused of murdering Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) Head of the Internal Audit Department, Thibello Nteso.

The four accused officers are Police Constables Moeketsi Dlamini (38) from Ha Mofoka and Monaheng ’Musi (30) from Ha Motsepa in Thaba-Tseka, Inspector Thaele Ramajoe (45) from Koalabata in Berea and Superintendent Tlala Phatela (52) from Ha Phatela in Qacha’s Nek.

The quartet first appeared in court on 12 January 2018 to face charges of murdering Mr Nteso near the residence of former police commissioner, Molahlehi Letsoepa, on 6 February 2017.

They also face an additional charge of malicious damage to property for allegedly damaging the deceased’s vehicle.

Justice Nomngcongo set the 12 to 16 November trial dates after being informed by the prosecution and defence lawyers that the case was one of those that would be heard by foreign judges who were expected to be in the country in September this year.

It is the state case that Dlamini and ’Musi were on guard duty at the home of the then Police Commissioner, Letsoepa, in Maseru West on 6 February, 2017 when they allegedly shot and killed Mr Nteso.

He was shot once in the hip area and the same bullet also penetrated the other leg.

The constables claimed they had suspected a plot to attack the former police commissioner after they noticed a firearm-holder in the late Mr Nteso’s car which was parked near Mr Letsoepa’s residence.

They fired shots at Mr Nteso’s vehicle at about 9pm that night to stop him as he was driving away from the residence of the LEC corporate secretary who lives near the former police commissioner.

The other two suspects in the murder case, Inspector Ramajoe and Superintendent Phatela, allegedly ordered the cover-up of the murder by tampering with the crime scene.

It is alleged that Mr Nteso was at the corporate secretary’s residence to work on a forensic audit report.   A few days after the shooting, the deceased’s younger brother, Tankiso Nteso, told the Lesotho Times that his brother had confided in him that he had been handling a big case of embezzlement of funds from LEC coffers involving more than M170 million.

Last year, the Nteso family hired a private investigator and a private pathologist as they were wary of the credibility of the police investigations and the findings of the government pathologist.

The deceased’s younger brother said the findings by the private investigator showed that Mr Nteso’s murder was linked to his work which would have exposed the embezzlement of  more than M170 million from LEC.

The much-postponed case will finally kick off in November when it is expected that the foreign judges would have arrived in Lesotho.

The foreign judges are expected to not only ease an estimated backlog of 4000 cases but also ensure impartiality in the criminal proceedings involving members of the security agencies. The foreign judges will also try former army commander, Lieutenant General, Tlali Kamoli, for murder and attempted murder later this year.

Lt-Gen Kamoli is charged with the murder of Police Sub-Inspector, Mokheseng Ramahloko, during the attempted coup of 30 August 2014.

He also faces 14 counts of attempted murder in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.

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